So the fleece is off the sheep. What happens after shearing?
The next step is skirting. Usually at shearing when there is enough help there is someone designated the "skirter." That person or persons is the one that handles the fleece and starts the process called skirting. Normally they are set up at a skirting table near the shearing area. They retreive a fleece once it is shorn off the animal, or it is brought to them by someone else. A skirting table is some kind of a perforated top set up high enough for the skirter to work without hurting their backs. I've seen some pretty neat skriting tables especially made for the purpose; even round ones that even revolved so that the skirter did not even have to move around the table, but instead turned the table to reach the various areas of the fleece. The fleece is laid out on the table and then the skirter proceeds to remove the icky parts, like the manure tags, clumped wool at the tail end, and normally skirts an area about 2 inches wide all around the fleece, as this removed wool of a different texture, and most of the belly wool, and shortened areas, and a lot of grosser dirt. When there are a lot of sheep being done and pressure to get the fleeces out of the way the skirting is brief, and relatively incomplete. The skirter does a visual inspection of the overall fleece, tests the strength of the staple, skirts as described, and then rolls the fleece and bags it. If is is a larger operation the various colors might be bagged together instead of each fleece into an individual bag.
How to roll a fleece. With the skin side down, starting at the neck or the rear, 1/3 of the fleece is folded over across the center, lengthwise. Next on the other side 1/3 of the fleece is folded over that.. then the rear end is rolled towards the shoulder area. So that when finished rolling it should be the skin side or the cut area that lies exposed for viewing. In the old days these rolled fleeces were each individually tied, but no longer. After the rolling practice each fleece is bagged, and labeled. Clear plastic bags are used for competiotns or if the owner just wants to visually see what's in a bag.
For hand spinning fleeces. The skirting practice is carried a bit furthe. Again depending upon how much help you have this can all be done at shearing. but in our case, since we are a very small opeation. Skirting is not done at shearing time because often it is only myself and husband to help the shearers. So it is bagged and labeled, and I do the skirting job later myself when time and weather permits.
( I was going to include photos at this point but this program will not let me. I suppose I should feel lucky because for over a week now it has reported "network error" and not even let me post....so I will try posting the photos later.)
What I do is called "skirting and picking" I first weigh each fleece for the raw weight. Then it is removed from it's bag and spread out on my skriting table. My "table" consists of a rectangle made from 1 x 1 wire that we put onto wooden framework. I'd estimate it is about 4 1/2' x 5 1/2'. Then I stack my two picnic table benches on top of each other about 3 to 4 feet away from the picnic table and lay my wire skirting board down as the table part of the contraption; the benches and picnic table are the table legs. That puts it at a good height so my back doesn't ache during or after the process. ( Hurrah, it accepted my photo) so up above you can see the skirting table before any fleeces are put on it.)